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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Painting of the Month (44) April 2014: Alma-Tadema

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836 -1912),  A Roman Art Lover
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was a controversial Anglo-Dutch Victorian painter. He was born in the Netherlands and settled in England in 1870 and spent the rest of his life here. To me he is an odd mix of the sublime and the faintly ridiculous. He drastically fell out of favour soon after his death in 1912 and after the First World War there was a sea-change in the Arts with the rise of Modernism, which was characterised by Freudian theory, philosophy, industrialisation and political theory - a complete break with past.
Alma-Tadema's subjects were based on Classical Antiquity in a kind of super-realism. Since the 1960s his importance to Victorian painting has been re-evaluated and his reputation somewhat restored. The important thing to rememberis that, of course, the paintings didn't change; just the 'expert's' opinions of them. So the lesson from that is - don't be afraid to like what you like, unfashionable or not!
Whatever one may think of these pictures, the fact which cannot be denied is his great photo-like technical ability.
Anacreon Reading His Poems at Lesbia's House 
Selfie of the artist


klahanie said...

I say, my human friend, I go to comment and your photos disappear.

This was, as per usual, riveting stuff. I thank you on behalf of my alleged human. Incidentally, my alleged human, Gary, was born in a house on Tadema Road in fashionable Chelsea. Just off the King's Road and very near the World's End pub.

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

bazza said...

From Bazza’s cat Ginger:
Hi Penny. Bazza has asked me to answer on his behalf. It's interesting to hear that Gary is only an 'alleged' human. I wonder if they can make the charges stick.I didn't realise how posh your master is - Chelsea indeed!
Love, Ginger xx.

Anonymous said...

Hot from the desk of the slightly appalling, yet sensational, Sir Tom Eagerly:
Well Bazza, I don't know much about art but I know what I don't like. Still each to his own I suppose. Incidentally in think I must have paid for the mortgage in The Worlds End pub, the amount of Johnny Walkers I gulped down in there. Happy days! Toodle-pip old boy!

bazza said...

Sir Tom I think you should be known as Phil E. Stein.

John said...

Hi Bazza,
Without reading your words and just looking at the paintings, I would have thought that they had been painted a couple of centuries ago!
Another fascinating and informative post, my thanks!

bazza said...

Hello John. Yes and that sort of thing went right out of fashion. Only now from a distance can the real quality of his painting be appreciated. But some of the subjects seem a bit 'twee' nowadays.

Wendy said...

I completely agree with John, as I too assumed that they were painted centuries ago. What a magnificent artist ... in every sense of the word.

loverofwords said...

If you think of lines, and just the ability of true artists to translate what they see in their mind's eye to a canvas and a sheet of paper, you have to appreciate what you look at, even if it is not to your taste. Just to look at a small corner and see how AT painted the folds of a gown, gives you a little buzz of appreciation.

bazza said...

Hi Wendy. If you put his name into Google Images you will have a treat if his stuff is to your liking!

bazza said...

Hello Natasha. That was very well put but I suppose that with your Blogging name that should be expected! I agree that the sheer artistic competence is incredible but I can't help having some ambivalence about his work.

Sherry Ellis said...

I'd say he was one very talented artist. They do look like they were painted in the 1800s!

bazza said...

Hi Sherry. Talented for sure. Of course some of his paintings were painted in the 1800s....he was active in Englamd from 1870 onward!

All Consuming said...

I would very much like to see these painting in 'real life' because face to face is the best way to judge how you really feel about art, more so with some than others mind. I like the composition of the last one immensely, though not so much the rosy cheeked child I'm afraid. Another fine post from you bazza *smiles.

bazza said...

I am very ambivalent about these pictures myself AC. I think some of the poses are overly sentimental- a strong theme in Victorian painting.
However, I agree that a lot of pictures fail to convey any kind of feelings when seen as reproductions.